Crickets are a productive form of live bait for a variety of freshwater fish. Some bait shops carry crickets, but they are easy to find and catch yourself. Crickets can be caught in the early morning around wood piles and rotting vegetation. Keep them in a ventilated container with a tight lid. help them stay lively by giving them a little water and dried dog food to eat, and keep them in the shade. Crickets need to be alive to attract bites, and this hooking method should let them live--at least long enough to be eaten.
Hold the cricket between the thumb and forefinger of one hand; be gentle enough not to crush it but firm enough not to let it get away. The cricket should be upright so you can see its back.
With your other hand, gently insert the hook into the cricket's collar, which is right behind the head. Thread the hook through the body of the cricket, bringing it out in the middle of the back or out the rear end. Aberdeen hooks work best because they are made of very fine wire. Use a hook that is appropriate to the size of the cricket (size #8 or #10 usually works).
Add one or two small split-shot sinkers to your line about 12 inches above the hook. The weight should be enough to let the cricket sink slowly. Add a small float or bobber above the sinkers; the distance depends on the depth you are fishing in. The length of line between the bait and the bobber should be roughly halfway from the surface of the water to the bottom.
Cast near cover that is likely to hold panfish. When the bobber goes under, this means a fish has taken the bait. Set the hook with a swift sideways motion of the rod.
This hooking method works with crickets, grasshoppers and katydids. Panfish including bluegill, crappie, pumpkinseed and rock bass are the most likely to fall for this bait, but you may be surprised by the occasional black bass or trout as well.